Study: compound found in broccoli and cauliflower lowers blood pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects about one in three adults in the U.S. Researchers in the lab of Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of integrative biosciences in the OHSU School of Dentistry, have contributed their expertise to a project led by Fawzy Elbarbry, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacy at Pacific University, resulting in an important new discovery that has implications for prevention and treatment of hypertension. The study, “Modulation of Arachidonic Acid Metabolism in the Rat Kidney by Sulforaphane: Implications for Regulation of Blood Pressure,” was recently published in ISRN Pharmacology, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal.

Using spontaneously hypertensive rats, the researchers demonstrated blood pressure-lowering benefits of sulforaphane, the main active ingredient of cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, bok choy, and broccoli. The current study is the first to link sulforaphane with a specific metabolic pathway that, ultimately, leads to a significant decrease in blood pressure.

While the effective concentration of sulforaphane used in our study significantly exceeded the concentration that is possible to achieve from an average daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables, a beneficial cumulative effect of a diet rich in these vegetables is likely,” Dr. Balkowiec said.

Anke Vermehren-Schmaedick, Ph.D., a research associate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine was also an author on the study.